What to do if you suspect or know food fraud is taking place and information about Food Standards Agency resources available to local authorities tackling food fraud.
Food fraud is committed when food is deliberately placed on the market, for financial gain, with the intention of deceiving the consumer. Although there are many kinds of food fraud the two main types are:
- the sale of food which is unfit and potentially harmful, such as:
- recycling of animal by-products back into the food chain
- packing and selling of beef and poultry with an unknown origin
- knowingly selling goods which are past their use by date
- the deliberate misdescription of food, whilst not necessarily unsafe, deceives the consumer as to the nature of the product, such as:
- products substituted with a cheaper alternative, for example, farmed salmon sold as wild, and Basmati rice adulterated with cheaper varieties
- making false statements about the source of ingredients, i.e. their geographic, plant or animal origin
The Food Standards Agency takes the issue of food fraud very seriously and although it does not believe that there is a significant problem in the UK, when it does occur, the Agency has a responsibility to protect the consumer.
Not all occurrences of food mislabelling or misdescription are fraudulent as these sometimes arise because of human error. However, it is important to report all incidents where there are concerns about the actual or suspected threat to the safety or quality of food that could require intervention to protect consumers’ interests.
You should tell both your local authority and the Agency about your suspicions.
To find the nearest local authority food law enforcement officer to the business or the area where the fraud is taking place, you can use our online search facility.
You can send details to the Agency by emailing email@example.com.
You can also report any known or suspected food fraud by telephoning the food fraud hotline on 020 7276 8527.
You will be asked to record your report on an answerphone that is regularly checked. Information received may be used to assist local authorities in their investigations, so please include as much detail as possible in your message. As it can sometimes be useful to verify information, it would be helpful if you leave a name and number. All reports are treated in the strictest confidence.
If you work in the food industry and you are blowing the whistle in the public interest on wrongdoing where you work.
The Agency’s policy on whistleblowing explains how you will protected from detrimental treatment or victimisation from your employer under the Public Interest Disclosures Act 1998.
Whistleblowers can email or phone the FSA:
- email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- call the food fraud hotline on 020 7276 8527 (answerphone)
- or speak to an FSA member of staff by telephoning 020 7276 8712, 020 7276 8077, 020 7276 8397 or 020 7276 8364
If you have any information or even mere suspicions about food fraud, it is important to forward this to the Agency by completing a standard intelligence report form, as this allows intelligence received to be more accurately evaluated. The form can be found in the related links section of the food fraud database page.
Completed forms should be submitted to the email@example.com.
If you want to discuss any measures the Agency has implemented to help you tackle food fraud please contact a member of the Food Fraud team on:
tel: 020 7276 8242/8397
Food Fraud Hotline (answerphone): 020 7276 8527
All information gathered will be used to populate the Agency’s national food fraud database, along with data from other sources. The database is a resource available for local authorities who may be seeking additional information to assist with their investigations into food fraud incidents. The database can also be used to detect emerging patterns of fraudulent activity which can then be passed to local authorities to consider taking any necessary enforcement action.
Further information on resources for local authorities can be found at the link below.